If You Can’t Make It To The Gym At Least Do This

Sure, people will tell you there's no excuse, but working 14 hour days can really hinder your drive to go run on a treadmill for 3 miles after leaving the office. You can get a fun, fast, functional, fat incinerating workout at home with nothing more than 20 minutes and a set of dumbbells.

What sucks more than plodding along on the treadmill to get in your cardio? Nothing. Doing the same thing over, and over, and over again sucks! Its as bad as watching paint dry and it takes forever.You know, you’ve got to drive to the gym, go find a treadmill, do your hour, walk back to your car, and then drive all the way back home. It can take up to 2 hours to get in a 1 hour workout. Blah!

Good News

  1. Your hour on the treadmill is actually completely unnecessary
  2. You can get better results in 20 minutes
  3. You can get these better results (fat-loss and fitness) without ever leaving your home or investing $2,000 in a home treadmill

Who Says You Need An Hour On The Treadmill?

The idea that we need to do 30, 45 or 60 minutes of “cardio” to burn fat came from the observation that elite endurance athletes – marathoners, long distance cyclists, etc – are thin. Exercise “science” folks concluded (without ever doing a single experiment to back this up) that endurance athletes are thin because they do lots of endurance exercise.

This makes as much sense as saying that short guys should play more basketball to get taller. After all, elite basketball players are crazy tall, so they must be tall because they play ball.

Don’t you think that making obese guys run a marathon would be a great fat-loss program?

A team of Danish researchers though so too. They took a group of obese men and women and put them on an 18 month marathon training program. Here are the results for a year and a half of training + a 26.2 MILE race:

  • Men lost 5 pounds total
  • Women lost 0 (as is zero) pounds (1)

NO, they did NOT gain muscle. Running a marathon is the exact opposite type of exercise that you would do to gain muscle.

If you’d like more research on this, read this.

But, Don’t I Need To Run For My Heart?

No. Back in 1996 a Japanese researcher named Izumi Tabata showed that you could get BETTER fitness results with about 4 minutes of interval training than you could from 60 minutes of steady state endurance work.

He took two groups of athletes: one did a steady state endurance workout for 60 minutes, 5 days per week, and the other did a 4 minute workout consisting of 20 seconds of all-out effort, with 10 seconds rest (8 rounds). In 6 weeks, the interval group had a slightly better improvement in aerobic fitness AND WAY better anaerobic fitness.

Here’s The Workout

References1. Janssen, G. M., et al. Food intake and body composition in novice athletes during a training period to run a marathon. International journal of sports medicine, May 1989; 10(1 suppl.):s17-21
2. Tabata, I. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and ˙VO2max. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Volume 28(10)October 1996pp 1327-1330

Josef Brandenburg is a Washington D.C.-area fitness expert with 16 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book "Results Fitness." In 2004, he started True 180 Fitness (formerly The Body You Want) personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the time you have available. Josef holds certifications from Precision Nutrition, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Functional Movement Systems, Corrective High Performance Kinesiology, and the National College of Exercise Professionals. Learn more about Josef on his blog, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

25 Comments

  • Reply August 17, 2009

    Jeff Barnett

    Sound advice. Tabata intervals are a really great workout. It’s amazing how a small amount of rest in the middle of intense exercise actually increases the intensity by allowing you to go harder on each work interval.

  • Reply January 18, 2010

    Dave

    OK, I have to ask: what watch is being shown in the first picture? (brand, type) It’s beautiful.
    On topic: I did go to the gym once, but I found it was just nonsence. Now I do push ups, pull ups and sit ups every day and it’s as good as the gym, and it costs me nothing.

  • Reply February 8, 2010

    Izzy

    Meh… Too complicated. When I hit the point where I’m so fatigued I can’t think, I don’t want to have to cycle through which of the 20 moves I’m supposed to do next.

  • Reply March 8, 2011

    Greensboro Gyms

    It depends on how motivated you are when going to the gym. You can be efficient with just 20 minutes than spending several hours. people have different strategies and their level of determination.

  • Reply April 10, 2011

    Women from Ukraine

    Dumbbells are good. I really like yoga, too. You can work out your whole body, increase upper body strength, gain flexibility and feel relaxed all at the same time.

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